In the digital era, audience studies are important in terms of space. This is because, along with seeing your audience as a market you are able to measure the dimensions of place between media and reality. I wished to further research this concept through the eyes of the Instagram square, I called this ‘Instagram Interaction’. Whereby I researched social marketing and construction whilst using my own experience with this platform as an example.
Instagram is a platform that keeps a portfolio of photo memories along with users’ tagged locations and a feed of continually streamed photos, thus being a perfect content analysis for research narratives and space over time. As mentioned in my first post, exploring the distortions and limitations of reality that images in the 612 x 612 pixels square can achieve would further my understanding of the relationship place has on audiences.
Essentially, these photographs sum up my project.
To begin my research, I wanted to understand how the audience as a market, effects the space between reality and most Instagram posts. Instagram is said by Villegas (2015) to be a ‘social movement that will increase your customer base and your social media engagement.’ However, one of the main ideas addressed in Villegas’s blog post is that sponsored posts are a powerful tool for marketing. She states ‘sponsored posts on Instagram come across as organic and relevant’. The ‘comes across’ space between audience and reality or truth is what I explored in my research.
This idea allowed me to want to further understand the realistic aspect of place addressed in deGuzman and Crawford (2013) ‘I forgot my phone’.
In order to achieve this, I went a week without Instagram. As addressed in my second post, this was more difficult than expected. An attachment to instant gratification and social approval is something that was evident the more I limited myself. Exploring this place allowed me to understand the reality that Instagram is able to distort.
Coinciding with this, to explore the ‘comes across’ dimension I used content analysis on my own Instagram account. Using five of my previously posted photos, I critically analysed them in terms of ‘what Instagram sees’ (the distorted space) and ‘what Instagram doesn’t see’ (the reality). Exploring these photos in depth allowed me to understand the lies, edits and practical truths behind them. In terms of the photo itself, researching the way we can distort the image gave me an understanding that the audience can see something entirely different. From a photography perspective Caruana and Fox (2012) explore dynamic bodies of work that bring new dimensions to images. Similarly, Instagram provides tools that contribute to the act of distortion, Hochman and Manovich (2013) call these ‘manipulation tools’. For example, cropping, straightening, captioning, filtering and adding a location all change the message communicated to your audience in which Instagram stores as a memory. Hochman and Manovich (2013) argue that ‘each filter evokes a different “feel’’ and that ‘while taking a photo of a specific time and place, we apply a filter to it to suggest a different time or atmosphere’. This is shown in the analysis of my own Instagram account, whereby certain atmospheres and times of day weren’t truthfully conveyed through the photo
With the emergence of the ‘attention based economy’ people have become more distracted than ever before. Therefore, we are living in a world where instant gratification defines our use of social media. Not being completely understanding of our distractedness in relation to the truth of an image could have negative effects on individuals. In terms of the distorted space versus reality, how does this affect the audience? Sunstrum (2015) argues that ‘because of this strict control of the way we are viewed, we are often fooled into believing other people’s lives are much better than our own.’ Overall, this can be seen as a problem in for the future of the structure of Instagram due to the negative implications for the audience arising when a dimension of an image is distorted.
Information about the research behind this project:
The form of research in which I carried out myself was a content analysis of my Instagram account. A qualitative form of research that allowed me to understand in greater detail the secondary research I had formed. In order to convince media industries or stakeholder groups further research into the area of image distortion would help create an understanding of the truth about misrepresentation involved in the Instagram square.
How can these stories be used effectively?
From the research I have gathered above and the issues which have evolved from our addiction to social approval and image distortion I believe there needs to be a platform in which social media has no social status component, no likes and no editing tools. One of which people are able to express their own true lives with an inevitably raw feature. I believe this would be a great approach to assisting people in the natural aspect of social media. This is because we wouldn’t be able to see those with the most Instagram followers and base our opinions on the products they are promoting purely off their status. We would have to use our OWN minds, how scary.
Caruana, N. and Fox, A. (2012). Basics Creative Photography. 1000 Lausanne: Ava Publishing SA.
deGuzman, C. and Crawford, M. (2013). I forgot my phone. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OINa46HeWg8 [Accessed 2 Nov. 2015].
Hochman, N. and Manovich, L. (2013). Zooming into an Instagram City: Reading the local through social media. First Monday, 18(7).
Sunstrum, K. (2015). How Social Media Affects Our Self-Perception. [Blog] The world of Psychology. Available at: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/03/14/how-social-media-affects-our-self-perception/ [Accessed 2 Nov. 2015].
Villegas, F. (2015). Ten Reasons to Adopt Instagram as a Marketing Tool. [online] LevelTen Dallas, TX. Available at: http://getlevelten.com/blog/felipa-villegas/ten-reasons-adopt-instagram-marketing-tool [Accessed 1 Nov. 2015].